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:: Zadel Realty Residential Real Estate Service :: Firestone, Colorado
Janet McWilliams Perlick
(303) 833-3012 Telephone (303) 596-6737 Mobile Janet@ZadelRealty.com
Janet Perlick is the co-chair of this year's Carbon Valley Relay for Life.Perlick is a 10-year cancer survivor.Carbon Valley Relay for Life co-chair Janet Perlick said organizing the local fundraiser for the American Cancer Society has become her passion."The theme for this year's event is, â€˜Superheroes,' and they (cancer survivors) really are heroes," she said."It is just devastating to get that diagnosis.To still be around, they are heroes." The fourth annual Carbon Valley Relay for Life will be June 21 and 22 at Hart Park in Firestone.Last year's event raised nearly $40,000 locally for the ACS, and involved 18 area teams.Janet, who works as a Realtor at Zadel Realty in Firestone, said she hopes to involve even more members of the community this year. The national theme for this year's relay is, â€˜Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back,' Janet said. "We need to celebrate as survivors, we need to remember those who didn't make it and we need to fight back," she said. "It is a struggle to survive this."And she should know. One morning nearly 10 years ago, Janet woke up and noticed the skin on her chest had an unusual yellow tint.Her husband, Jim, suggested she make a doctor's appointment. Janet, a Fort Lupton High School graduate, just moved back to Colorado from Chicago with her husband.They had only been here for a couple of months, she said, so she didn't yet have a doctor in the area. She located a clinic and went in to see the doctor.She almost went home before seeing the doctor, she said, but her husband convinced her to stay. After looking over Janet's blood work, the doctor found that her liver levels were sky high.She proceeded to have an ultrasound, a cat scan and an endoscopy.The doctors thought she may have gall bladder disease or hepatitis. Days later, when she got a phone call from a doctor she had never met, Janet said she was floored.The doctor told her she had a tumor and she needed to make an appointment to see a surgeon. Numb and confused, Janet called the surgeon, who said she couldn't be seen until the end of the month.She called the doctor back and told him, who said he would try to get her an earlier appointment because he felt she needed to be seen sooner. "When the doctor called back and said I had an appointment with the surgeon in 45 minutes, I knew it was bad," she said.Janet learned she had a tumor in her pancreatic duct. The doctor told her, at age 39, she was very young to have this type of pancreatic cancer, but that it couldn't be ruled out. "It has a big long name and I never bothered to learn it," Janet said."I wasn't going to take ownership of it." To this day, Janet carries a slip of paper with the name of the cancer written on it, just in case she has to fill out papers regarding her medical history.She still hasn't memorized the name. It was 30 days from the day Janet first walked into her doctor's office with yellow-tinted skin until her surgery. Janet's surgeon performed a complicated procedure, called a Whipple.The Whipple surgery is the surgical removal of the head of the pancreas, the duodenum (part of the small intestine), part of the common bile duct, the gallbladder and sometimes a portion of the stomach.This surgery is dangerous, Janet said, and can sometimes cause complications with the stomach and other organs. Upon awakening, in her groggy state, Janet looked around the hospital room at her family members.They were crying. "I didn't know what was wrong," she said.At first, Janet was hesitant about her husband's insistence to make the travel plans, but then decided she was determined to go. "My husband told me, â€˜Janet, we're going to whip this,'" she said. Janet took the diagnosis hard at first.She was angry. "I'm a woman of faith, but I was pretty mad for a couple of months," she said."I was mad at God.I thought, â€˜I'm a pretty good person.What is up with this?'"While Janet spent five weeks at home recovering from her surgery, her mother, Jorie, would come over to try to get Janet to eat and to assist her in getting around the house. "She would come over and help me, and I thought, â€˜I don't want to die before her.I don't want her to have to bury her child,'" she said. For six weeks, Janet had radiation treatments and chemotherapy together.She had to wear a chemotherapy pack, so she could get the chemo 24/7. Eventually, Janet was finally able to go back to work in the printing and engraving industry, going in for radiation treatments in the morning , then heading to work. "You feel like you have to do something," she said. She endured four additional months of chemotherapy.In the meantime, she reconnected with old friends. "I'm so lucky to have a lot of friends praying for me," she said.Janet said the only form of unconventional treatment she went through for her cancer was working with a hypnotist. She said she was struck by the words on the hypnotist's business card, â€˜Change your thoughts, change your life.'"She told me that she had seen a lot of cancer patients and that she thought I was unique because I had told her â€˜I'm battling cancer,' instead of, â€˜I have cancer,'" she said. The hypnotist worked with Janet on breathing exercises and gave her affirmations to repeat, such as, â€˜I'm a long-term cancer survivor,' and, â€˜I reject cancer.' "I would be driving to radiation and I'd be yelling this in my car, â€˜I'm a cancer survivor!'" she said. When Janet and Jim made it to Hawaii a year after she was diagnosed, Janet said, though she was weak, she climbed to the top of a beautiful mountain, threw her arms up in the air in victory and shouted, "I am a cancer survivor!"Janet said she always considered herself a fairly upbeat person, but it wasn't until a moment in her 20s that she realized the impact her occasional negative comments and thoughts had on herself. "This older guy at work told me, â€˜It's easy to find things to complain about.You have a choice, you can either look at it as the glass is half-full or half-empty,'" she said."The light bulb just went off and I've tried to be more positive ever since."You can only blame so much on everyone else,--make a change in your life," she said."You can change your life, you just have to decide you want to do it."This could be the last day of your life, and you have to live that way," she said."Do not put off to tomorrow what you could do today.I was 39 years old.I would have never dreamed I would have been diagnosed with cancer.You've got to take care of it today, you really do." In addition to participating in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life for the last 10 years, and heading up this year's local event, Janet is a strong advocate for people to be responsible for their own health.She encourages people to have regular mammograms, Pap smears, colonoscopies and check ups. "You get afraid, â€˜I don't want to find out,'" she said."But you've got to go and do it.There's no excuse.You just don't know." Janet said there is a 65 percent survival rate for those who get their cancers treated soon enough. "We have to give a lot of credit to the medical doctors, but we also have to advocate for ourselves and be persistent in our own health care," she said. "It starts with yourself," she said.
"These people really get excited about this out here and they put on quite the party," said this year's event co-chair Janet Perlick."I'm a cancer survivor and I had no idea this was their number one fundraiser," Perlick said.The event lasts for approximately 14 hours and each team has a member walking the path around the park at all times.Each team pays a registration fee and each member on a team is asked to raise at least $100.Last year's local relay saw 18 teams raising $38,500.This year's goal is to get at least 24 teams to participate, Perlick said. Businesses have the opportunity to be sponsors of the event.They can donate at different levels and receive different levels of recognition. Perlick, herself a 10-year cancer survivor, is co-chair of the event with her friend from high school, Berniece Zadel.So many people want to find a way to help others, but they don't know what they can do, Perlick said.Survivors don't need to be part of a team to participate, and they don't even need to walk in the event, Perlick said.She just hopes they will come to the event to be honored and to see all of the community members who support them. "Last year there were over 90 survivors at the event," she said."That tells me there are a lot of people out there that are survivors."You need to see that there are other people who want to fight this thing.You get the chance to connect with people in your community." For information on the Carbon Valley Relay for Life, call Janet Perlick at 303-596-6737, Berniece Zadel at 303-833-3307, or visit www.cvrelayforlife.org.
Janet M. Perlick - REALTOR®